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"USHPA in the Red' - Tiki Mashy Hits a Home Run!!!

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Fri May 10, 2019 11:14 pm


Tiki Mashy calls out the skyrocketing salary of USHPA's Martin Palmaz (now at $108,419) while the association bleeds red. And all this is happening in the midst of a power grab to further reduce representation and with 2 new deaths at the Torrey Pines Gliderport (long protected by USHPA's insiders).

From the Oz Report:
Tiki critiques the USHPA Sat, May 11 2019, 3:06:44 am
In the red
Tiki Mashy writes:

Prepare to be alarmed: our Association is operating in the red.

Spending now exceeds the money we contribute to our coffers, despite inflating pilot membership and instructor dues, therefore I felt this circumstance warrants a close examination of expenditures.

I began this task with a review of USHPA salaried employees. Unfortunately I was dismayed to have my request for this information met with protest and conditional refusal by a member of the USHPA Executive Committee – despite the fact that I am an elected USHPA Regional Director who is unconditionally entitled to this information; and blocking my access is a blatant overreach of power by the Executive Committee. I indicated that I do not answer to the Executive Committee, I answer to the membership.

Things got more contentious (why? I don't know - it was a simple request on my part). Following a testy email exchange with the same EC member, cooler heads prevailed, and I was provided the salary information, but I had to promise “not to publish” the individual salaries of the employees, with the exception of the Executive Director.

I was informed the salaries of the other four employees are "protected" by California statute since USHPA is registered with the State of California, however USHPA is doing business in Colorado, so wouldn't it be subject to those laws? In any event, I have yet to verify this is true however I will respect what I was told until or unless I find out otherwise.

I was also told by a member of the Executive Committee that the salaries are “in line with other non-profits.” Ok, but I wanted to see for myself - and so should you.

The Executive Director salary is public domain and is included on USHPA's 990 tax document, and accessible by all members (copy and paste this url into your browser if necessary), than enter your member number and password; than click on “990 (tax return) Forms”:

Anyway the information I received was a bit disturbing. For 2018-2019, while operating in the red, the annual salary of our USHPA Executive Director is $108,419; perhaps the $214,500 (the combined salary of the other four employees), is more in line with other non-profits, however the $108,419 for USHPA's Executive Director seems, to me, to be a bit out of line, considering our lack of growth and declining membership numbers.

Even more alarming was to find that our Executive Director salary continued to increased year-after-year, even amidst our 2016 insurance crisis, when members gave so much; instructors were asked to sacrifice; the association was struggling to stay afloat, AND there was a net drop in membership – how did the Executive Committee justify this -; it is the Executive Committee who make these decisions – power concentrated in a smaller group apparently leaves little room for oversight, hence is not necessarily better.

Here is the Executive Director Yearly Salary plus his expenses, and the number of members during that year:

    2013 salary $75,916 plus expenses: $6,395 membership 8,743
    2014 salary $78,220 plus expenses: $2,342 membership 9,164
    2015 salary $81,315 plus expenses: $8,953 membership 9,348
    2016 salary $95,423 plus expenses: $9,464 membership 8,321 (lost -1,027)
    2017 salary $106,660 plus expenses: $6,087 membership 8,497
    2018 salary $108,419 plus expenses: ? Membership ?

Maybe you think this is OK. I don't. These figures do not include health benefits, seminars, training, events attended by the Executive Director and his expenses. Even more disturbing is the Executive Director expenses were the highest during the Insurance Crisis. And in the nine years since the current director was appointed the overall membership has fallen.

How sustainable is a six-figured directorship for our organization (rhetorical). It seems shortsighted for this organization to not have tied the Executive Director salary to the USHPA's performance and growth, which is common among not for profit institutions like the USHPA. However that idea was apparently rejected. I don't know why, I was not part of the BOD at that time – but was recently informed of this.

Doing a bit of research I found the average “Non-Profit Executive Director” salary averaged around $70,000-$80,000 for an organization of our income - actual figure is dependent on role, experience, and performance, yes performance.

Regardless of how we arrived at this six-figure liability, our present circumstance urges attention. If salary is not a performance inducement, might not the position then be filled for less, with a competent manager who also possesses basic bookkeeping skills? Canada runs its office with only one person – I am not advocating that, but any need they have beyond that one person is farmed out to the membership; perhaps if we implemented a similar model, tapping membership expertise, we could balance our books. To be clear I am not advocating anyone losing their job, that would be cruel, I am however saying we need definite oversight, the situation now is untenable - we're in the red.

Three of our five employees work outside Colorado, only our Executive Director and one other live in Colorado, perhaps the cost of living in Colorado Springs is high, and it might be long past time to relocate.

Our Association presently runs without any Oversight Committee perhaps that is why these conditions have gone so long unchecked; salaries and raises are not approved by the full BOD.

Additionally, the Governance Proposal with its diversification matrix will diminish existing oversight more by eliminating many Regional Directorships. Those are the folks who ask questions like these, folks directly accountable to you. Instead we are offered platitudes for lack of growth, etc. - "the population is aging," "the internet," etc.

Our Association needs member input, your ideas, and your oversight. What-do- YOU-think? Talk with your fellow members, and share your ideas with your Regional Director… while you still have them. If you haven't already, protect your voice by voting "NO" on the Governance Proposal.

This is only a small part of USHPA's financial predicament – but one I think should be addressed. We, as a member driven organization, must start holding our Directors' feet to the fire, make them answer the hard questions. You the member have so much power. Right now you have access to your individual Director's attention, it will not be so convenient if this Governance Proposal passes.

For me, I have a mission, I have never thrown softballs at the BOD, and I do not intend to do so now. Let's start cleaning up our organization not by some Governance Proposal that won't address budgetary or growth issues, but by reaching out to each of your directors and find out exactly what is going on. The problem is not too many directors, in fact that is what has kept this association from going under, the problem is our members have not been asking the right questions. I'll give you the questions and the answers if “they” won't, just call me.

Look we are all in this together, there is no malice on the part of anyone in this organization. We all want the same thing. We just see a different path forward.

I have been a member of this organization since 1980. I believe its best days are coming if we pull together. The amount of Directors isn't the problem, that's not what got us in the red, the problem is oversight and leadership. This may ruffle some feathers, and I may lose even more BOD friends, but it is not my intention to offend. It's just how I see it. I was elected to do the bidding of the membership not the Board.

Lastly, this was not meant to turn into a campaign to vote against the Governance Proposal, but given the example of lack of oversight how could it not.

Thanks for listening.
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Re: "USHPA in the Red' - Tiki Mashy Hits a Home Run!!!

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat May 11, 2019 6:49 am

From Tiki's numbers:

    2013 membership 8,743                                             
    2014 membership 9,164                                               
    2015 membership 9,348                                                
    2016 membership 8,321                                           
    2017 membership 8,497                                           

USHPA lost 1,027 members after whatever stupid things they did in 2015.

Here's a note from one of those lost members in 2016:

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:47 pm
Open letter to Region 4 directors: Ken Grubbs, Bill Belcourt,

I've decided to let my long-standing USHGA/USHPA membership expire for the following reasons:

First, none of my letters, sent to the Region #4 Directors, addressed above, were responded to, according to my wishes concerning the "Vote NO" on the expulsion of Mr. Bob Kuczewski. I may renew my membership, within three (3) years, in order to maintain my ratings, unless USHPA randomly changes the rules in order to shorten the current rating-retention grace period. Should that action take place, I will be done with USHPA permanently.

Secondly, I am, further, severely disappointed in USHPA Directors for not disciplining a Torrey Pines site instructor who abused the FAA tandem exemption while giving joy rides to children. Regarding such reckless endangerment of children, it seems obvious to me that USHPA is simply following the money in favor of heedlessly endangering children. Hanggliding/Paragliding are not carnival rides for which there is a parent-informed, reasonable acceptance of safety.

My advice is to stop catering to the business community and return to catering to the recreational pilots.

With full understanding of how insignificant my and Mr. Kuczewski's combined total of $300.00/year may be to USHPA, please consider my membership expired until USHPA does the right thing by reinstating Bob Kuczewski's exceptional standing, history,. and membership in USHPA.


Bill Cummings
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Re: "USHPA in the Red' - Tiki Mashy Hits a Home Run!!!

Postby wingspan33 » Sat May 11, 2019 6:53 pm

I think the writing has been on the wall for some time now. With declining numbers in the early 1990s the USHGA decided to admit the FAILING US paragliding "association/group" into a (once) HG only organization. I remember, when I was still flying out of Ellenville, NY that practically all the PG pilots had foreign accents. I also remember that more than one of them were quite arrogant and could care less about the dominant HG population. Who were we bringing into the Nat. Org.?

The USHGA brought PGs into the fold because the leadership didn't want to make the effort to promote hang gliding like it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There were Hollywood movies about hang gliding during those times! That propelled members of the public to find HG instructors and learn how to do this amazing kind of basic flying. I shouldn't forget the magazine articles in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and National Geographic.

So, why didn't the USHGA seek out those same sources to create articles (and/or MOVIES!) on the NEW (and safer) version of hang gliding? It seems to me that only an uninformed (stupid?) USHGA leadership would fail to think of such options. Screw the PGs! Use some brains and get people interested in hang gliding again!

As for me, I dropped the U$hPa back in 2013. There's no way to make that long story short, so I won't try. I think the 2016 HG decline in membership had to do with the RRRG and some old pilots getting fed up with the Nat Org's "status quo". I know of one pilot - the President of the Rochester, NY club - who refused to renew when the (still) USHGA required that you sign a WAIVER to renew your membership. That was way before 2016!

I think comments about the current state of the U$hPa are like the last cries from the Titanic. In this case, there may be a slim chance that some National Hang Gliding Organization will prevail. I'm not so sure it will be the U$hPa.
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